The future of homegrown single-seater racing is getting a massive boost from the Australian Grand Prix.
Albert Park is set to kick-start the second full season of S5000 racing and will serve as the bait for a three-round international series that’s likely to see the return of former grand prix racers Rubens Barrichello and Giancarlo Fisichella to Australia for races including Bathurst and the Gold Coast.
Despite doubts over the re-scheduled AGP, now set for November 21, organisers of the event have struck a solid deal with the Australian Racing Group and S5000 to feature the V8-powered open-wheelers on the program and anchor the Triple Crown.
The AGP meeting will also serve as the second round of a new-look S5000 series that will run for a total of seven events over the summer.
“Australia loves open-wheel racing and we’re blessed to have Formula 1 here in Victoria. The S5000 class will bolster an exciting weekend of on-track action, which I know fans are eagerly anticipating,” said Craig Fletcher, general manager of events at the AGP.
Details of the 2021-2022 season come as Joey Mawson looks to lock-down the inaugural Australian Drivers Championship for S5000s at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend.
The new summer season, with its three-round ’series-within-a-series’ content, has been in the works for more than a year and is the brainchild of category creator and former racer Chris Lambden.
“Grand Prix, Bathurst, Gold Coast – can you think of a more attractive and exciting trifecta?,” Lambden said.
“We have already had strong, legitimate interest from overseas in the Triple Crown. The stars have certainly aligned for us to be able to take this next small step and include an attractive string of three events within what will be S5000’s first full, seven-round season.”
There have only been small fields for S5000 this year but the category has produced some cracking battles and close racing with the recently-named Roger AF01/58 chassis and their 560-horsepower V8 engines.
But a 16-strong S5000 field, including Barrichello and Fisichella, practiced and qualified at the 2020 AGP before to its cancellation due to Covid-19 and Garry Rogers Motorsport has the ability to build more cars to boost the grid in November to more than 20 starters.
The back-to-back dates for the Triple Crown will see the S5000s racing at the AGP from November 18-21, followed by the Bathurst International meeting a week later from November 26-28, then the Gold Coast street race – once host to IndyCar open-wheelers – from December 3-5.
The summer series will actually begin at Sandown in September, but details of the final three races in 2022 are yet to be confirmed.
“This is a massive step forward for S5000 and its positioning as Australia’s premier open wheel category,” said Matt Braid, CEO of the Australian Racing Group.
“After our debut at Albert Park was cut short in 2020, S5000 has unfinished business at the Grand Prix and we can’t wait to return to Melbourne.